One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “when is the best time to travel to Africa?”
As with everything about safari, the “best” time is very nuanced, so the answer depends on your priorities. Remember, we specialize in bespoke safaris, so every aspect should fit you to a T.
Are you looking for dry conditions and high wildlife densities? A warm end to your honeymoon on the beach? Or is your goal to avoid the crowds and soak in the vastness of Africa’s unspoilt wilderness?
Yes, location definitely factors into your safari. But timing is also critical.
To help illustrate the differences in seasons, I’ve compiled a guide that highlights some of the variabilities in weather, wildlife, landscapes, and logistics that we consider when helping you choose the right destination and the right time of year for your safari.
January through March
Green season means lower pricing (especially in Botswana), verdant landscapes for vivid photography, and an abundance of baby animals and birdlife. The days are typically hot with the occasional quick rain shower. Unlike other destinations, the green season is the best time to visit Botswana’s Central Kalahari, as more wildlife can be spotted now than in winter. The large herds are dispersed during these months, but it’s an ideal time to combine safari with a visit to South Africa’s Cape Town and the Cape Winelands which are in their prime with late-summer weather akin to the Mediterranean.
With lighter crowds and exceptional game viewing overall, Kenya and Tanzania are wonderful destinations for January and February, before the seasonal rains arrive mid-March. The plains of the Southern Serengeti swell as calving season begins with zebra foals in late January followed by wildebeest births in February and March. This is the most reliable time of year to spot the huge herds of the Great Wildebeest Migration and the predators who stalk them. The crystal-clear waters of the Seychelles are at their best in March for scuba diving and fly fishing.
April and May
Water levels at Victoria Falls continue to build during these months, peaking near the end of May, resulting in powerful spray that rightly gives the Falls the name “The Smoke that Thunders.” If you can, time your visit around the full moon to photograph lunar rainbows!
Travel in East Africa is much harder in April and May, as many seasonal camps close due to heavy rainfall. With weather patterns constantly changing, however, there are exceptional savings. If you’re considering a June safari, opting instead to travel during April or May is a great way to avoid the crowds.
June through September
The dry winter months in Southern Africa thin out the bush. You’ll have the benefit of increased visibility as well as more waterhole drama between predators and prey as water becomes scarcer. Game viewing is outstanding. Many camps in Zambia and Zimbabwe are only open these months, making June through September the ideal window to visit. Herd sizes and concentration increase in both East and Southern Africa as the dry season continues and temperatures warm up. You should expect peak visitors during these months, making private conservancies more important—and valuable—than ever.
June through September is a fantastic time to visit East Africa. At the end of this stretch, the Great Wildebeest Migration reaches Kenya’s Masai Mara, though both Kenya and Tanzania feature an impressive collection of year-round wildlife near permanent water holes. These months are also one of the best times of the year for gorilla treks in Rwanda and Uganda. Gorilla trekking makes for a simple and seamless addition to your East African safari—and utterly unforgettable.
October and November
With scorching hot days, the weather may not seem ideal, but in October and November, the exceedingly dry landscapes foster epic wildlife sightings as animals congregate at water sources. As seasonal rains begin in November, take advantage of lower pricing and lighter crowds. Consider coupling a safari with great weather in Cape Town, or flock to the beaches of Mozambique.
In Tanzania’s Mahale Mountains, the chimps’ seasonal movement toward the shores of Lake Tanganyika makes treks a bit easier this time of year. The weather is perfect for beach life, too, affording the ideal post-trek relaxation. The Great Wildebeest Migration begins to work its way back down from Kenya through the Central Serengeti.
Holiday travel means rooms are very hard to come by all across Africa. Consider planning 1+ years ahead to avoid compromising your once-in-a-lifetime safari.
If price plays a factor in your decision-making process, we will advise you on long-stay discounts and free-night offers that make travel during any season a good value. If your travel is fixed on certain dates, that’s okay too! Give me all the puzzle pieces, and I’ll assemble them in a way that maximizes both your time on the ground and your dollar
Plan Your Safari Today!
Ready to start planning your own incredible African adventure? We make the process stress-free and enjoyable. Call or email us today to explore your best options for a safari holiday you’ll never forget!
Then, start packing that suitcase because we’ve got all the details covered.